This page is a bit diffferent from the others:
First of all it is not strictly rail oriented, althought many km of it are along an old ROW or along some very Narrow Gauge railways, second it does not have many words as the other one in this site, but mostly pictures.
The trip has been made in the last days of 1997, we arrived with the train to Corniglia, one of the Cinqueterre, in the picture above you see a panoramic of the station, and the town, on top of the hill on left.
Corniglia is the only one of the five town that give the name to the area that is not on the sea, It is at 80 m a.s.l. and you can reach from the station with a long stair.
The railway line from La Spezia to Genova was built in 1863 as a single
track line, it run almost entirely in tunnels along the coast. Fron 1930
to 1970 the line was doubled, and in many places both tracks were moved
in deeper tunnels.
This moved also some stations, as the one of Corniglia, so if you on exit of the station go toward south, after passing (follows the signs) under the railway, along the bed of a stream, you will be on the old ROW.
The picture above on left side show, with the wall in red bricks, the area where was the station yard, a bit lower than the actual one, of which you see the large portal of the tunnel toward north (on this line almost all stations begin and end in tunnels, in Vernazza only one car can stay outside the tunnels).
Behind the small houses on left there is the entrance of the old tunnel. This one have been cleaned and now is used as a pedestrian way to a nearby beach, saving a long steep trip up on the hill. It touch the currently used one at center, so you can observe trains inside a tunnel. Going further north there are a lot of other section where the track have bben removed and now are narrow road to reach some small beaches. There are about 40 km of such rail-to-trail section in all Liguria, from Albenga to Manarola, althought the region has no abandoned railway.
We howewer headed south, alonmg the row, passing throught a village of bungalows sor summer, built exactly where was the railway.
There are still many railway artifacts visible as cable support as in picture on left, where you can see also the supports for a pedestrian trestle or the basement for catenary poles as seen in the picture on right.
Along the trail there are many windows from where to see the uniqu landscapes,
so you can stop and look ...
The path follow closely the old railway for about 800 m, until the entrance of a tunnel.
Here, sometimes (but i find is 2 out 3 times) there is a fence, it has been put by the municipality as a disclaimer since the trail is, in the parts that do not are on the old railbed, subject to landslide and other.
You can safely cross througt (or better below) the gates, that are the higher grade of difficulty of the trail (this time the "difficult" part of the trail had even an handrail ...)
After you crossed the fence (if there is at the time you go) you can also look into the tunnel where now there is the captation of a spring.
Above the Tunnel entrance there was once the line guard house, and on flank of the hill , along the track, there was the bread oven.
(the window on left had a fountain)
Note that space between oven and rail is small, so one had to showel bread in oven only when there were no passing trains.
The stone covered walls well integrate with the surrounding ambient, and you can see there also some interesting particulars.
Where usually there is the "not drinkable water" sign here
there is a sign stating that the spring is good !
Now we abandon the raw and go ahead along a quite wide path, always with lage wiew on the sea and along the coast (The large pictures of Corniglia have been taken from here).
We are approaching Manarola and the path is very well kept.
Before arriving to Manarola there are an area of rest (althought from
Corniglia to here is less than 50' walking) where one can stay staring
at the sea ol looking around.
In the Cinqueterre until 1971 there were no roads, only accesses where from Sea or from the railway, and even today the roads stop on entrance of the towns.
Look at how the old track is compenetrated wity the towns, and the wall decoration on the last picture of this serie taken inside the village.
To go from a side to another of Manarola beside to climb the hill there is an underpass, nicely painted, that we get to arrive in the centre of the town.
From Manarola to Riomaggiore there is a narrow trail, the so called "via dell'amore" much similar than the path tht we did from corniglia, but here the gate was larger (it is closed for some days aftere heawy rains since the on the path is easy to slip, and the hill is very steep) and we had to go away.
We decide to go then to La Spezia (lazy people can get the train here) over the hill, so we begin walking up the hills.
For a tourist could be interesting (consider the season we were) seeing the big figures of nativity on the hill, but other people could note some other things on the hills ...
beside being no road, of course ...
This area, but this can be said for the entire Liguria, have a very intensive agricolture, on tiny particles, on steep hills.
The principal product of the area are grapes for wine, sciacchetra and cinqueterre.
If all products had to be carried by hand the cost would be too much high, on the other part, building roads, even if only for light specialized vehicles would requre a lot of land, with these gradients.
The solution is the one shown in next pictures:
In the second image show a particular of the lines, while first one is a "terminal" .
These rack railways have the cars rolling on top of the monorail, stabilized by a wheel on bottom of the rail, where there is a rack, the locomotive, that you see on bottom right just use the rack to clim the up to 80% line.
these line cover all the area of Cinqueterre, althought whith limitate individual lenght (maximum is 700m, I have seen one less than 90m )
They are quite light, consider that a grade crossing is made just removing the rail ...
The picture on side is the example of the typical path in the area. Althought near the sea, you cam end climbing
To end the trip I put 4 images of the spur that connected the station of Spezia Centrale to the navy arsenal, now no longer in use .... It is at the end of our trip (total walk: about 6 hours)